What I Have Learned
Delta Lake State Park
I thought I would try something a little different today. While I was post-processing my image for yesterday’s post I was thinking about how often I visit Delta Lake but I manage to come home with images I want to share. That led me to thoughts of my early work when I was attempting to understand my camera and to really become a photographer.
I went back to an image at Delta Lake from November 2012. It was and still is a a favorite image of mine. I look at this image now and see all the changes I would make to it if I was creating it today. The changes are not really about the newer software for post-processing or my skill at using them, it is about my vision. I know I capture fewer images now than I did when I was starting out, but I feel I capture better images to express myself.
Well, that was a little long winded… What I wanted to do in this post is look at my original image and walk through the changes I would make today. So, here we go…
Back when I was starting on this journey, everything was HDR (High Dynamic Range) and I felt I needed to bracket every view in order to create the image I wanted. This image was no different. I captured -1, 0 & +1 exposures and threw the images into Photomatix in order to get what I wanted. I was also very much in love with the 16×9 image format (don’t ask me why…). Looking at this image I also see how “heavy” I went with my use of plug-ins for Lightroom and/or Photoshop. I had a full compliment of Topaz Labs plug-ins which I had won in a contest and I did not let them sit idly by..
My changes… First up, I processed the original exposed image, no HDR, I didn’t need it. I have learned how to better coax the lights and shadows into my image the way I want them to be displayed. I re-cropped the image to a 5×7 format. I want to bring a little more of the sky into view. This re-balances the image for me. Back in 2012 I knew about the rule of thirds but I don’t think I fully appreciated how/when to utilize it.
The next step was to remove the two yellow/green sun flare areas on the right side of the image. They are the first thing I notice when I look at my original image. They are still slightly in the new image but I know what I’m looking for, the normal viewer will not see them. The next correction I wanted to make was the colors. For one, my original HDR processed resulted in a “muddy” looking image. My heavy-handed processing only accentuated the problem by creating a grey overall tone. I feel like I’m looking at this image through a pair of sunglasses.
In Lightroom I adjusted the image to be brighter and to keep the color of the sky actually blue. I will admit I still use plug-ins but I have a better understanding of how to use the software to enhance my “look” rather than to overwrite the image with a pre-determined style. I added contrast to the shadows and mid-tones to bring out the texture of the sand. I adjusted the color to remove and color cast captured by the camera due to me shooting into the sun. I also wanted to highlight the colors of the sunset but not use them to overtake the image.
As much as I am happy with my original image, this revisited version, in my opinion, is a better representation of the scene. I like the color balance and the image itself is better balanced. Maybe I like it because it reflects my current style, that might be a contributing factor. You’ll have to let me know what you think…